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Snowboarder Pearce is hurt

Vermont athlete injures head doing difficult jump

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / January 1, 2010

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Kevin Pearce of Norwich, Vt., considered a medal contender in snowboarding in the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, suffered a serious head injury during halfpipe training yesterday in Park City, Utah.

Attempting a double cork twisting double backflip, the 22-year-old Pearce slammed his head against the edge of the halfpipe and was knocked unconscious. He was flown to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where doctors planned to drain fluid that was building up in his brain.

US Olympic halfpipe coach Mike Jankowski said Pearce appeared to hit the pipe edge just above his eye during a double cork. Jankowski described the injuries as “serious, critical.’’

When reached late last night, a Pearce representative had no update on his condition.

“He did [the double cork] a little too hard, put a little too much oomph into it, and over-rotated on his second flip,’’ said Jankowski.

In an interview seven weeks ago, Pearce talked about the difficulty of the double cork and how landing it would affect the sport: “The whole idea of them is to do the two flips, which has never really been done in the halfpipe. Snowboarding halfpipe is going to completely change. You’ve got to be in peak physical condition, because if one thing goes wrong, it’s kind of the end of your season.’’

Pearce, a favorite to make the US Olympic team and challenge 2006 gold medalist Shaun White, learned to snowboard in the Green Mountains surrounding his hometown of Norwich, including stints at the Stratton Mountain ski school and Okemo ski school. Pearce’s father is world-renowned glass blower Simon Pearce, who has retail outlets around the Northeast, including a location on Newbury Street.

Simon Pearce and his wife, Pia Pearce, were headed to Utah last night.

In the earlier interview, Pearce said, “My parents being able to give us freedom and trust us really gave us the outlook and ability to go for what we want and strive for it. They were always like, ‘Oh, he loves to snowboard, let’s take him to the mountains.’

“But never in a million years, never would my mom have said I’d become a professional snowboarder. At one point, my father asked if I really wanted to do all this. And I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to go for it.’ ’’

The injury occurred while Pearce was preparing for next week’s US Snowboarding Grand Prix in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. The competition constitutes part of the US Olympic trials.

During the offseason, Pearce learned and perfected the double cork at a halfpipe in Mammoth Mountain, knowing the trick had the degree of difficulty needed to medal at the Olympics.

The Pearce family was recently together when the snowboarder returned home to celebrate the holidays. An avid Celtics fan, Pearce also took the opportunity to attend a game at TD Garden.

Material from the New York Times was used in this report.